One of my favorite things about covering startups is that I often discover problems I didn’t even know existed.
For example, I didn’t know what musicians went through to book concerts. It seems easy to me: call a venue, come play when they’re open anyway, go home.
It turns out I was pretty naive. Booking is actually a cumbersome process that puts a lot of financial pressure on artists who are already strapped. And that’s when they can get in touch with venues, which is hard to manage without connections. With hundreds of emails a day, venues are likely to just default to who they know, even when there isn’t as much demand for the artists.
Besides the issues with booking, there’s a disconnect between a music industry that says “it’s all about the fans” and the reality that fans rarely have a say in when or where their favorite bands play.
Rabbl–a concert crowdsourcing platform–looks to solve all these problems.
CEO and cofounder Wade Lagrone put it this way: “We are taking a marketplace that works on handshakes and back room deals and making it transparent and efficient.”
Here’s how it works:
A band sets up a “rabbl” asking fans if they should play a certain town during a certain week at a certain ticket price. Fans vote YES with their credit card, to be charged only if the show gets booked. If the rabbl reaches its goal, bands look around for a venue, using the already-sold tickets as proof that they will draw a crowd. After the show happens, the band gets the ticket money from the rabbl.
As Lagrone explained, it helps touring artists and fans, but it also takes a lot of risk for the venues out of the process. These venues need to book shows, but whether or not the band will sell tickets can be pure guesswork.
Along with the consumer-facing portion, the platform signs up partner venues. These venues publish their guidelines for getting booked. For example, they can say an artist needs to sell 30 tickets through Rabbl at $8 a ticket. When a musician reaches that goal, they know they’ll be booked. Clear standards make a true marketplace, replacing the unclear booking process of yesteryear.
On-demand entertainment is the norm in our culture. Books, movies, TV shows–all of these we consume pretty much on our own terms now. Live shows are a holdout, and Rabbl is looking to change that.
Lagrone and cofounder Erik Needham are presenting at the Angel Capital Expo next Thursday. Check out Rabbl online and see if you can get your favorite band to come to your town.